Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 30: New Project Proposal!

Today is the last day of November and the last day of my 'post every day' project. I've succeeded, though it's questionable whether or not all of those posts were worthy of seeing the light of day. Still. I did it. :)

My new project is something that I've wanted to do for a while.

Last year...or was it the year before?

Hang on. *wanders off*

Wow. Hey. So it was two years ago. Yeah. Susanne, I'm getting old! :p Anyway. About two years ago Susanne did a series of posts as she was reading through the Qur'an. Just reflections, things that struck her. If she had them all tagged with a unique tag (HINT) I'd link to the series. But as it is, here's a link to her Qur'an tag. They're in there a ways back.

There was also a Muslimah (whose blog name I have forgotten and I can't find a link) who was doing a read through of the Bible and doing the same thing, making comments.

And these were both really interesting projects and I want to do it too because of course you all care *deeply* about my random thoughts!

But I can't decide which to do: the Bible or the Qur'an. So I'm putting it to a vote. Which would you guys like to see? And if I start with the Bible, should I start in the Old Testament or the New Testament?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 29: So close. So close.

We're almost at the end and I literally am having too many thoughts and feelings about too many things to pick one to write about.

I'm in the middle of intense Cold Days fangirling feels (I'm totally renaming the Dresden Files to the Dresden Feels in my head, thank you very much).

Anticipating both Hobbit and Les Mis feels of intensity.

Writing out my The Dark Knight Rises feels.

Watching history shows that basically end like this: and then the Muslims came along and invented all the cool stuff. The end. Also algebra. So that kind of balances it all out.

No. Seriously. A Muslim physician came up with an idea for human flight before Da Vinci. You don't learn about that stuff in school, do you? Nope.

I want to start like a book club but I have no way to organize it and I think I'd read too fast for everyone.

I want to reread the Dresden Feels and plot everything out in a chart or something and See the Meaning of the Universe.

Somewhere outside my window something is making goat noises.

I'm not going to look. Nope nope nope.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 28: I still have a problem with this and I don't have a horse in the race

Okay, I've been trying to figure out how to say what I want to say and it's just not coming out quite right.

Yesterday Heather posted a link to an article about woman only mosques in China. These are mosques where even the imam is a woman - no men at all. However, one of the mosques that was talked about is not (in my opinion) an actual mosque because it's still led by the male imam in the mosque 100 meters away. So the building is a part of the mosque, but not it's own unique mosque, see?

And yes, I would think that having their own building is most likely nicer and far roomier than many women's spaces that I've heard of in basements or second floors or tiny rooms off to the side, but here's my issue:

There seems to be, from what I hear from men and women who are Muslims (so this isn't just my opinion), a tendency to shunt women out of the majority of mosques in the world. They're not afforded the same opportunities for leadership within the mosque community, their opinions and needs aren't taken as having as much weight as their male counterparts and they are relegated to second-class in many instances. This is, perhaps, a function of the belief that women don't *have* to attend prayers at the mosque like men do and so why should time/effort/money be wasted on facilities for them?

Still, women do want to attend services at the mosque, at least jumah in many cases, and so there are these token spaces that are woefully inadequate and not kept as nicely as the spaces for the men. Again, this is me going off of what I have read from Muslim men and women. I've only personally been to one mosque, one time, and while the space was significantly smaller than that designated for the men, it was not as bad as some of the stories I've heard. It was beside the space for the men, separated by sliding glass doors that had been mirrored on the men's side so that they couldn't see in but the women could look out and watch the imam as well as hear him through the speaker system. Anyway.

So these women (and the same set up occurs in the US and Canada from what I read) have a separate building that is only for them. They're responsible for the upkeep, etc. and so it's a nice place for them to go and pray. Which, I would think, would encourage more women to go more often. And that's a good thing, right? Right.

But is having a separate building a step in the right direction?

I just can't help but feel, looking at it from the outside, like I've said, that it's just a further separation between men and women. Now the women aren't even in the same building. They've been shunted *further* from the imam who is supposed to be a teacher to them.

It feels like an extension of the 'out of sight, out of mind' mindset.

For anyone interested, here's the original article: China's Women-Only Mosques and a second article, China's Female Imams, that was linked by a reader in the thread.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 26: It's hypnotic!

I've got nothing for you guys. I'm writing and waiting for Cold Days to be released so that the fangirling can begin.

Have some Avengers Caramelldansen!






Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 25: Just me, rambling about sin

No movies again this weekend. My buddy had to work and I have a surprise!cousin visit going on so I couldn't go later in the evening. :(

Short, rambling post tonight.

The hardest thing I find, personally, to understand about Christianity is the entire...Jesus died for my sins portion. So, you know, a large chunk of it.

1. The Bible is of two minds about the whole 'sins of the father' being visited on his children bit. There are more verses that point to sin being 'inheritable' than not, but it makes no sense to me. If we're to be held responsible for the sins of everyone who came before us in our family line, then what good is free will? Even if we choose the right path again and again, we're still burdened by the smudge of *their* choices. I can understand if it's a way of saying that the *consequences* of those choices affect the descendants of the people who made them - that's just common sense. But it's taken to mean (at least when we're talking about 'original sin') that we are actually, literally responsible for the sin that someone made thousands/millions of years ago.

2. The concept of 'original sin' is a 2nd century construct that was made popular (and worse) by Augustine. It's not found in Judaism, where the story of the 'fall' originates. (I am aware that not all Christian denominations believe in the concept of original sin as it is commonly understood in Western Christianity.)

3. We have God rejecting human sacrifice in the Old Testament, in the story of Abraham and Isaac. That has long been taken as a complete repudiation of human sacrifice to God, as opposed to the gods of the people that surrounded and conquered the Jews who did accept human sacrifices. Then we come to the New Testament which is based on God accepting a human sacrifice as payment for all the sins of those who believe that the sacrifice paid for their sins.

4. If Jesus was God, then how could he leave himself at the cross? How can God withdraw His presence from Himself? In Matthew he cries out, asking why God has forsaken him? I've seen some people argue that God, because He is unable to look at wickedness (which makes no sense to me either - He's God. Are you telling me that if we're bad enough then God just can't look at us any more? Then He's not omniscient, is He? And how does He have a conversation with the devil in Job? How?) that God 'spiritually' turned His back on Jesus at that point.

Okay. How do you turn your back on yourself? If the Trinity is not, in fact, some form of polytheism, then all three Persons are *one* in a way that we don't quite get. I am failing to grasp how one being can turn its back on itself in any sense of the term.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 24.5: I will need to bring a box of tissues and hide in the theater until the red goes away

Director Tom Hooper on yesterday’s first screening of Les Mis: ”Towards the end of this film today this weird thing happened like a rustling kind of sound. For a minute I freaked out wondering what’s that odd sound on the soundtrack? I looked around and realized it’s the sound of people crying en masse.”

My feels: this movie will be right in them.

First The Hobbit and then Les Mis.

I'm not going to survive December.

I'm going to be dead of excessive fangirl feels.

Day 24: My Library and De-Cluttering aka Downsizing for Biblioholics

Every so often throughout the year I post pictures of my library. It changes during the year, obviously, and honestly it's just a bit of self-indulgence. My books are my babies. :)

First, the pictures. And then we'll talk about the rest.

The big shelf. Really it's five sets of shelves, but I think of it as one shelf. It takes up the biggest wall in my room. The main difference you'll notice is the top of the shelves. I've gotten rid of the majority of my penguins.
There're a few more penguins on top of this shelf, but that's it. Also, not pictured, is the space beneath my television where I used to keep stacks of books that wouldn't fit on my shelves. No more! The ones that I kept are on my shelves, the others have found new homes.
It's a...

...multimedia...

...library.

The best picture I can get of my comics boxes. The closet is too narrow for me to get a shot from the front.
Manga on the shelf to the right of my bed.
What's left of the books under my bed! Just four rows! Admittedly those four rows go all the way across my bed, but still. I moved at least half of the books that were under my bed to my shelves.

The shelf at the foot of my bed.

More....

...of the...

...multimedia portion.

And the last shelf. With room on the bottom for more books! No more double rows!
Okay. I come from a long line of pack rats. When my grandfather died he had a two and a half car garage and two sheds full of things, plus the attic of his house. It was all neat - we're not talking Hoarders here, but it was a lot of stuff that he felt would be useful one day.

I don't have any pictures of it, but I used to live in a room with boxes and boxes of books. I literally had no room to even set up a bed frame. And I hadn't even read the majority of those books. It wasn't about enjoying the books, because I couldn't. It was about having them. They were *mine* and I couldn't let them go.

I have my own theories about why that was, having to do with my step-father and a whole lot of unpleasantness, but the end result was that it has taken me until the last few years to be able to get rid of books without panic making me literally sick over it.

Now I can read a book and decide whether to keep it or not based on my enjoyment of it and not irrational fear that giving it up means I'm losing something. I can treat my books the way they're meant to be treated - as things that I enjoy, but just things in the end.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 23: It has everything you want in a story

Continuing my answering parts of Susanne's question:

Favorite story in the Bible: Easy peasy. The Book of Tobit.

It's one of the Old Testament books that the Protestant Bibles leave out but is in the Catholic and Orthodox canons.

It has it all - love, mystery, a quest, demons and angels.

Tobit is a Jew living in Ninevah. He goes blind and sends his son Tobias off to collect a sum of money in Media. The archangel Raphael, disguised as a human, accompanies Tobias to Media, helping him along the way.

Meanwhile, Sarah, a cousin of Tobias, is tormented by the demon Asmodeus. The demon kills every man who Sarah marries on their wedding night before the marriage can be consummated. It's not entirely clear in the story - but I get the impression that Sarah herself was possessed by the demon but others have it that the demon just hung around and popped up when the wedding night was about to happen.

Tobias, under Raphael's direction, goes and meets Sarah and arranges to marry her. On their wedding night, Raphael helps Tobias drive Asmodeus out to Egypt where Raphael follows and binds the demon.

Sarah's father, having secretly dug an eighth grave because he's sure Tobias isn't coming out of the bridal chamber alive, is shocked and thrilled when both Tobias and Sarah emerge the next morning. They proceed to celebrate for so long that Tobias sends Raphael to collect his fathers' money, still believing that Raphael is just another human being.

In the end, Tobias returns to his family with his new wife, cures his fathers' blindness under Raphael's instruction and escapes the destruction of Ninevah due to his fathers' advice.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 22: I admit to totally phoning this one in

I'm not a big fan of Thanksgiving, personally.

1. It's less about being with our families as it is gorging ourselves on insane amounts of food and then the men passing out in the living room with their pants unbuttoned while the women clean up.

2. It's basically celebrating the time when we showed up, couldn't survive, were helped by the native inhabitants of the land and then turned around and killed a whole bunch of them so we could have our 'promised land'. I find little to celebrate about any of that.

3. All that being said, if you're going to have Turkey Day, there should be turkey. There was no turkey in my household this day. There was ham. :(

So yeah.

But it's over. Now to survive Black Friday - I don't do the whole shopping thing. Except for one time, when I forgot about the Black Friday insanity somehow and went to the mall to pick something up. It took me an hour and it should have taken me 5 minutes. Never again. NEVER. AGAIN. But I do have to work tomorrow. Then, the weekend. Then I'm off on Tuesday for the release of Cold Days. Expect that next Tuesday's post will be me sobbing grossly over this book. You've been warned.

And now, since I complained so much about our Turkey Day ham, I'm in charge of Christmas dinner. And goose and duck have already been vetoed because my family has no souls.

I need recipes for interesting dishes! To the internet!

Though if you guys have any dishes that you love, please feel free to point me to a recipe. :D

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 21: That sounds like a lot of effort, actually.

Back to our regularly scheduled posts!

For those who forgot, I'm working on parts of this: "Your favorite Bible story, Quranic story, hadith, story from other religions. Least favorites. Hardest stuff to understand from each. Hardest things to give up if you converted to one or the other, etc." In whatever order and depth I want. :p

Keeping with the theme we started, we're sticking with Islam for the day. But today is going to be about what I find the hardest to understand in Islam and what I'd find hardest (I think) if I converted.

So. The hardest thing to understand, for me:

The hadith. There are so many of them and some are 'authentic' and others are 'suspect' (I know these aren't the right terms but this is how I think of them) but people will use the 'suspect' ones if they back up what the person is saying and each madhab seems to consider different hadith as authentic versus suspect and some of the hadith that are 'authentic' seem to contradict the Qur'an or have *really* strange rulings in them that make Islam look like the creation of a brilliant man with severe OCD. Sometimes I think it would be much better if they were all just chucked and people stuck only to the Qur'an and what it says. After all, isn't the Qur'an supposed to be self-sufficient?

Random moment: In my speech class a week or so back we had to give an impromptu speech, meaning that the teacher came around and gave us a question or a prompt that we then had to give a 1 - 2 minute speech on. My prompt was basically, 'If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be and why?' Since there wasn't any time or geographic limitations, I got up and spoke about how, assuming that I had a time machine, I would go around and meet the founders of the worlds' religions. Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddah, etc. And I would talk to them, maybe ask questions based on what has come down to us from their time, etc. try to get it straight in my head.

But I said, leaving whether or not any of them are the 'correct' religion aside, I would like to talk to them all because they must have been extraordinary men in their own rights. Most religious movements die out after the death of the founder. Theirs not only didn't die out but came to dominate the religious world.

Anyway.

Things I would find the hardest to give up if I converted: Simple, really. Pork and alcohol. I'm not much of a drinker anymore but I do like to have a drink every so often when I go out. And pork. Wow. We eat a lot of pork, which is not something that I'd ever noticed before. But we do. I don't know if it's a Southern thing or what, I mean we really like our bar-b-que's and that means pork. So...I think that would be the hardest.

I think (and this is going to sound so odd to everyone who's been here for a while) another thing that would be difficult would be hijab. I've moved in a different direction from where I was once, when I thought that headcovering was a requirement of God. I'm not sure that I would be a hijabi, mostly because I don't believe that it's what is commanded in the Qur'an. I see a call to modesty, but modesty does not equal the current idea of hijab, in my opinion.

It seems so shallow, looking over what I'd find 'difficult', but this is from the outside. I'm certain that if I did convert there would be things that would surprise me when I found them difficult.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 20: Am I the Only One Who Did the Reading? Again?

Okay, the first time I hear this I wrote it off as my grandmother being old.

However I just had it happen again, in one of the class presentations.

*gets out lecture stool/soapbox*

Muslim is to Islam as Christian is to Christianity. Is that really that hard to understand?

The people doing this presentation were touching on the religious aspects of Physician Assisted Suicide. Basically, what major religions said about it.

And they listed, as separate religions:

Christianity
Islam
Muslim
Judaism

And there I am in my seat, facepalming.

Muslim and Islam are not separate religions. A Muslim is someone who follows the religion of Islam. Just as a Christian is someone who follows the religion of Christianity. How can you not know that? How?

You'll be happy to hear that Islam and 'Muslim' both say the same thing about P.A.D. though. It's good when a religion can agree with itself.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 19: Some of my favorite stories from Islam

Another Susanne topic!

Well, part of one. Susanne asked: "Your favorite Bible story, Quranic story, hadith, story from other religions. Least favorites. Hardest stuff to understand from each. Hardest things to give up if you converted to one or the other, etc."

And it's obviously more than one topic, but I thought I'd address a little bit of a few of them. Sort of.

So, Islam. Some of my favorite stories:

While not from either the Qur'an or the hadith (as far as I know - there are a lot of hadith, so I could be wrong here!), my absolute favorite story related to Islam is the story of Mohammed and Khadijah. Maybe it's the little girl in me who grew up with the idea that a prince was coming to rescue me someday, but there's something utterly dear and romantic to me in their relationship. I mean I understand that it's what's been related almost 2,000 years later, but it just seems so...not *perfect*, because no relationship is, but...lovely.

I don't think I really have a favorite story from the Qur'an itself. Though if I was forced to choose I think it would be the Qur'an's version of the sacrifice of Abraham. Mostly because, unlike the Biblical version, Ishmael shows awareness of what is happening and gives consent to being sacrificed. In the Bible it comes off as though Abraham dragged Isaac up to the top of a mountain and is going to kill him. Not that human sacrifice is a good thing, but at least in Ishmael's case he makes the decision himself rather than solely being a victim.

My favorite story from the hadith would be the story of Abraham and Ishmael's wives:

The Prophet (pbuh) continued: "After Ishmael's mother had died, Abraham came after Ishmael's marriage in order to see his family that he had left before but he did not find Ishmael there. When he asked Ishmael's wife about him, she replied: "He has gone in search of livelihood." Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, "We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,' complaining to him. He said: "When your husband returns, convey my salutations to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).'

"When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife: 'Has anyone visited you?' she replied, 'Yes, an old man of such and such description came and asked me about you and I informed him and he asked about our state of living and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.' On that Ishmael said: 'Did he advise you anything?' She said: 'Yes he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.' Ishmael said: 'It was my father and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.' so, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from among them (Jurhum).

"Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael. So he came to Ishmael's wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said: 'he has gone in sof our livelihood.' Abraham asked her; 'how are you getting on?' asking her about their sustenance and living. she replied: 'we are prosperous and well off (we have everything in abundance).' then she thanked Allah. Abraham said: 'What kind of food do you eat?' she said: 'meat.' he said: 'what do you drink?' she said: 'water.' he said: 'O Allah! bless their meat and water.""

The Prophet (pbuh) added: "At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain he would have also invoked Allah to bless it. If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected unless he lives in Mecca."

The Prophet (pbuh) continued: "Then Abraham said to Ishmael's wife: 'When your husband comes give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.' When Ishmael came back he asked his wife, 'did anyone call on you?' she replied: 'yes, a good looking old man came to me,' so she praised him and added: 'He asked about you and I informed him that we were in a good condition.' Ishmael asked her:' did he give you any piece of advice?' she said; 'yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.' on that Ishmael said: 'It was my father, and you are the threshold of the gate. He has ordered me to keep you with me.'

Sorry, I don't know what book of hadith this is from. :(

I actually, when I first learned of this hadith, had problems with it. Mostly because I had this impression of Abraham as a father who totally abandoned Ishmael and Hagar and then came by years later to rag on him for his choice of wives. However I understand the Islamic version of the story better now and I get that, at least from their perspective, Abraham didn't completely abandon them and then show up later. He spent time with Ishmael and there was every reason for him to respect his fathers' opinion. But that's not why I like it. Why I like it is because it touches on the concept (to me) of not gossiping, of not talking behind someone's back. And I think that that's very important.

Gossiping is just...terribly destructive. I hate it. It's so easy for people to hear wrong or to take what they hear and twist it and cause strife within any group. It serves no purpose at all except to cause harm. There is, of course, a difference between 'gossip' and warning people of danger, but I don't think that's necessary to get into right now.

I think I'll touch on other parts of the question tomorrow. It's almost time for me to go home and I don't think I'll have time to write on this any further tonight.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 18: It's like interpretive dance, only without the dancing

I didn't make it to the movies this weekend. My regular movie buddy is coming off of a cold and I don't like going by myself. It's not as much fun.

So I just went to the gym and then got my hair cut. I dyed it too, myself, not at the salon and is it just me or does everyone's bathroom wind up looking like a murder scene after they dye their hair red?

Just me?

Yeah.

Anyway. It's nearly ten, so I decided to do my ten favorite movies. More or less.

In no particular order:

1. The Princess Bride
2. Alien
3. Aliens
4. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
5. Nolan-verse Batman trilogy
6. The Marvel Cinematic Universe
7. Inception
8. The Fast & the Furious series
9. The Abyss
10. The Town

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 17: Bones Squintern Arastoo Vaziri

I just watched last weeks episode and I'm having feelings about this man and so you must all suffer.

Things to get out of the way first:

a) I realize that he is a fictional character. So when I propose that he marry me immediately, this is to be taken as fangirling and not creepy stalking of the actor.

b) That being said, this man needs to marry me. I'm ready.

*cough*

Okay.

Arastoo Vaziri is an intern on the show Bones, where he is played by Pej Vahdat. Bones is one of my favorite crime dramas, winning out easily over CSI which feels more and more repetitive and played out to me. Though admittedly Bones has David Boreanaz and no other show does. So...there's that.

The set up for the interns on Bones is thus: her old intern went kind of nuts and became a serial killers playmate and is currently (as far as I remember) incarcerated for assisting in murders. Sweet kid otherwise. Anyway. She couldn't find a single intern that replaced him, what with him being a genius and all, so she hired all the interns that tried out for the position and rotates them.

Arastoo is one of the rota-terns and clearly one of my favorites. When he came on the show, for the first couple of episodes he was in, he had a heavy Middle Eastern accent. We find out later that the accent was a put on so that people would think he was 'fresh off the boat', his reasoning being that the other scientists would find it odd that he could be both a brilliant scientist and deeply religious. So, at first, he found it easier to let them think that his faith was an unimportant remnant from his upbringing. It only comes out because he slips, when the head of the department is sort of freaking out trying to be politically correct and he's telling her it's okay and she just doesn't believe him...

Cam: sorry! Sorry! Pig bones, God!

Arastoo: (speaking with accent) I’m fine, Dr. Saroyan. Perhaps the killer assumed the victim’s remains would never be noticed amongst the pig bones?

Cam: really Arastoo there’s no reason for you to—

Arastoo: I appreciate your concern but I am fine.

Cam: no! Really, most of us aren’t devout here and I respect your religion.

Arastoo: he hath forbbiden you the flesh of swine, but if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits - then is he guiltless.

Cam: the point is you shouldn’t feel—

Arastoo: — (speaking with no accent) I’m a scientist, okay? Just like the rest of you. I can deal. So just back off and let me do my job like anyone else.

Cam: …wow.

Arastoo: (speaking with accent) eh… I apologise for my outburst…

Cam: oh, you are not even going to try to unring that bell, are you?
— Bones, season 5, episode 4

Apart from being adorable, which he *is*, what I like most about the character is that he's portrayed as a real person. It's far too easy and common for shows to portray religious characters, especially ones who are meant to be Muslim, as caricatures. It would be much easier for the show to leave out all mention of Arastoo's faith, or to make him an atheist or to not have him on the show at all.

Arastoo's issues with being comfortable being open about his faith are dealt with not by the other characters harranguing him about them, though he does get some flack for the fake accent thing, but by sitting down and going through why he feels like he has to hide (in part) this aspect of himself.

The search for truth is honourable and I honour Allah through the search for truth.”  - Arastoo Vaziri

So, you know, he's always been one of my favorites on a show where I think that they consistently do characters as real people and not as caricatures though by no means do they get it perfectly every time.

Hodgins: This baseball thing…you allowed to play?

Arastoo: No, the Qur'an strictly forbids baseball, lacrosse, of course, and any bored games with hungry hippos.

Hodgins: That’s a yes, with an additional comment on my ignorance.

Arastoo: I was a state all-star in high school, I even got scouted by a couple of farm teams.

Hodgins: No way!

Arastoo: Yeah, I still play on the weekends. My mosque is in a league that plays against churches and synagogues. You should join us sometime! 

Hodgins: Oh, come on now, I can’t be on an all-Muslim team. I’m a lapsed Episcopalian.

Arastoo: You know, every team has a few ringers. The Jews have a Unitarian batting 400.

Hodgins: Really. Huh. Never tried to beat the infidels before.

Arastoo: As long as you can find me something in your washer goop that determines cause of death, you can play short-stop.

Hodgins: You’re on.

Arastoo's a real guy and he probably gets sick to death of peoples' misconceptions about him due to his race, let alone his religion, but he does his best to educate (sometimes with snark, depending on the situation) and to just live his life like anyone else because he *is* like anyone else. The writers have been careful to develop Arastoo as a character without either ignoring his religion or making it the defining characteristic of him.

Favorite. Like I said.

And then this episode happened. It's called 'The Patriot in Purgatory' and it starts with the squinterns being assigned to the cold case room in a kind of competitive moment that Bones is having. The boys (Daisy the female intern is not in the ep) make it even more competitive and having a scoring system, etc. for who figures things out the fastest. However Arastoo's first case is a homeless man found in a parking garage and the wounds don't make sense. In spite of the others encouraging him to just put it aside and move on, he refuses because their job is to give these people back their names, not to score points off of one another. In the end he gets the others to help him in spite of themselves and they figure out that the man was wounded in the attack on the Pentagon on September 11.

It's a very emotional ep, of course, and full of good scenes that I don't want to ruin in case anyone hasn't seen it yet.

But here's the part that made me decide that Arastoo is my future husband:

The squinterns are working on the body and getting nowhere since the wounds don't make a whole lot of sense. One of the other interns questions whether or not Arastoo is thinking clearly:

Finn Abernathy: Is this too difficult for you Arastoo, because I'd be more than happy to do as much as needed to ease your load.

Arastoo Vaziri: Why would it be more difficult for me than anyone else?

Finn Abernathy: Because of... Because you share the share the same religion as those men..

Arastoo Vaziri: Is it too difficult for you to work with Dr. Edison?

Finn Abernathy: Um... Excuse me?

Arastoo Vaziri: You share the same religion with men who cherry picked the Bible to justify slavery.

Finn Abernathy: I'm sorry... I didn't mean nothing..

Arastoo Vaziri: But still your words have meaning, don't they Mr. Abernathy? Those assumptions you made, those quick generalizations, what about the vengeance and the blood shed in the Old Testament?

Clark Edison: Okay, he's just a kid Arastoo.

Arastoo Vaziri: If he's not old enough to know, he's certainly old enough to learn. The Crusades, the Inquisition, are these events guided by a religion of peace? No, they were guided by self important men who think that they know more than the god they claim to worship. This was not the work of religion, it was arrogance, it was hypocrisy, it was hate. Those horrible men who hijacked those planes, hijacked my religion that day too. They insulted my God so no, this isn’t too difficult. It's a privilege to be able to serve this victim, to show him the care and love that was so absent that day.

Finn Abernathy: Thank you, Sir. I'm sorry. And thank you for taking the time to set me straight.

Fischer: That was awesome. 
 
 Keep talking forever and marry me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 15: I have an hour and 11 minutes left! Last minute post is last minute!

What baby names do you like and why? Why would you be a good mother? What would you most struggle with (if you had to guess)

Today's random question comes to us from Susanne. :) Well and it's three questions, but I'll allow it. Because I'm in charge. :p

First: baby names. Hmm. Well actually I'm not a big 'name' person. My friend Eve had baby names picked out in middle school. Admittedly they were very hippy-esque (Sunny Day and Cloudy Night) and once the reality of being married and the father having an opinion hit, Evesdottir wound up with a lovely normal name. :)

Personally the only name that has significant meaning for me would be Joseph/Josephine/a. My grandfather, who is in my completely unbiased opinion the greatest man who ever lived, was named Joseph and I was supposed to be named after him - Josephine/a - but my mother changed her mind and I became 'Amber'. So one day, if I ever have kids, I'd like to name my first child Joseph or Josephine/a. As for other names...*shrug* it would depend on my mood I guess, and what input my imaginary husband had on the subject.

In general I guess I'm more a fan of classic names, nothing strange ala 'Sunny Day'.

Second: Why would I be a good mother?

I'm not sure I would be. I don't have this burning desire to have kids or spend time around kids or anything like that. I'm good with kids, once they hit the walking/talking stage, but I don't have some baby whisperer power or anything. I guess, if I turned out to be a good mother, it would be because I think family is one of the most important things on earth and I protect what's mine no matter what.

So basically, if you mess with my kid I'll cut you. *sharpens knives*

On the other hand, I don't believe that coddling children does them any good, so I think I'd be a good mother in the respect that I would let the kids make their own mistakes and I'd do my best to make them aware of the real world. Like Santa. Santa is the biggest...

Look. You take these kids and you tell them that there's a magical man watching them All the Time (which is stalker-creepy, don't deny it!) and that if they're good then he'll bring them whatever presents they want. Because he's *magic* and he has *elves* and *flying reindeer*. So then they're the best they can be and Christmas comes around and woah, hey, where's that pony they requested? They were good and Santa has gypped them! He's broken the social contract! BETRAYAL!!!!!!!!!!!! Down with the system! RISE UP MY TINY BRETHREN!!!!!!!! *short, angry mob storms the pony store at the mall*

And all of this could have been avoided if parents would just admit that hey, we're the ones buying you the presents and we can't a) afford a pony and b) have no place to keep said pony.

And I will read my kids classic literature and not Fluffy the Bunny or whatever it is. Dracula is a perfectly acceptable bedtime story, right? Right?

One thing that annoys me about modern parenting is this habit of treating the child like they're just a vertically challenged adult. They're not. They're a child. By all means, they should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions and I will take them into consideration but I AM THE ADULT! My vote counts more. Mostly because you can't reach the pedals yet, tiny human.

*side note: In case you haven't noticed, for someone who has no kids nor any plans to have any in the immediate future, I have *opinions* about them. I realize that this is coming from the peanut gallery and obviously defer to the wisdom of those who have actually had and raised/are in the process of raising kids.*

Third: What would I most struggle with?

Entertainment. I did not realize until Evesdottir came along that you had to entertain tiny babies. I thought they were pretty much self serve in that respect until they became mobile. I thought there was a grace period.

There is not.

How do you find something to entertain a fussy baby? HOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW???????

I'm the kind of person who can spend hours sitting and reading a book.

Tiny people apparently want to be moving and seeing and *held* all the time and you have to wake up every couple of hours in the night to feed them even if they're sleeping peacefully and then sometimes they won't go back to sleep because hey, you started it, now NO ONE WILL SLEEP!

And the cart must always be moving. Always. You cannot be stationary in a store with a baby for more than .02 seconds. It's *weird*.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 14: Lucky or...

As a couple of you who are my super secret FB friends know, I walked out to my car this morning to find that one of my tires had gone flat.

Which is an unfortunate occurrence and definitely not something that I was looking forward to having happen. However, thinking about it it's actually a pretty good thing that I found my tire flat this morning.

Last night I had my class which goes until 8 pm. So I was driving home on I75 which, at least around here, is not very well lit. It goes over several bridges (which freak me out a bit anyway, I have a morbid fear of crashing on a bridge and my car being sent into the water) and it's a 20-30 minute drive from the college campus to my house.

I was about 5 minutes from my exit when I heard something hit my car on the right side. Sort of a flapping-tapping sound, like someone running something over the side panel or on the undercarriage. I slowed down and looked, trying to see if there was anything caught on my mirror or anything like that. I didn't see anything and the car didn't start behaving oddly. I've blown a tire while driving before, though not at highway speeds, and I know what it feels like. I made it all the way home, parked and went about my night.

My guess is that whatever I hit last night (there's sometimes debris on the highway which is easy to avoid in the day but harder at night though I'm a good driver if I do say so myself) punctured my tire. And I feel very lucky that it was a slow leak (obviously) and not a blow out because at 70-80 mph I'm certain I would have crashed.

And of course thinking about how lucky I was that my tire went flat when and how it did, it makes me think, 'Well is it really *luck*, just random draw of the universe, or is it that I wasn't meant to have an accident like that?' Not that I think angels were keeping my tire inflated or anything, but that...that there is a plan, like an outline and certain things are meant to happen in your life. And certain things are not meant to happen. And so they do or they don't, because that's the plan.

Saying it like that makes it sound like I don't think there's free will, which is not the case. We clearly have free will. It's one of the factors that makes us human. But maybe, like I said, there's a map and there are many ways that you can go but there are certain fixed points within each life that are meant to happen.

/witterings

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 13: More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About My Health

But not in a disgusting way!

I'm just finding new things out and feeling the urge to talk about them.

As some of you know, I have an under active thyroid. Specifically, I have Hashimoto's disease. This means that my immune system thinks that my thyroid is a foreign body and attacks it. This leads to a swollen thyroid which leads to it under producing the hormones it's supposed to be putting out.

The symptoms for under active thyroid are fun: fatigue, sensitivity to the cold, dry skin, hoarse voice, elevated cholesterol, weight gain and difficulty in losing weight, muscle and joint pain, swelling of the joints, muscle weakness, depression, and memory loss to name a few. Not everyone gets all the symptoms, of course. Mine presented as extreme fatigue and depression - as in, unable, literally unable to get out of bed in the morning. I also gained weight continually, no matter what kinds of diets I tried or how I exercised and have yet to be able to lose it all.

I've been working with my trainer for a couple of years now and while we've made progress, it's stopped. And no, I don't eat perfectly but I eat fairly healthily and I exercise 4-5 days a week, heavy on the cardio. I should be losing weight and I'm not.

So I'm seeing a new doctor. I've seen her once and we went over the problems I'm having. She took blood and when I see her next week we'll talk about my options. I'm not looking for surgery or any sort of 'quick fix' because I know from the past that they're not the answer. I just want to know what's still wrong that what I'm doing isn't working.

In the mean time I've been doing some more reading about my thyroid. Turns out that a lot of people who have Hashimoto's also have Celiac disease. And maybe it's just WebMD-itis, but I read through the symptoms for that and I have several. Some of which, like depression/irritability and joint/muscle pain, I thought were left overs from the thyroid. So that's something I'm going to talk about with the doctor next week. I really don't *want* it to be the reason because a gluten-free diet is basically the only answer and all my favorite foods contain gluten apparently! :(

The other thing I've been looking at is the medicine that I'm on. I take Synthroid, which is a synthetic hormone replacement, to take the place of the hormones my thyroid isn't putting out. I've been on it since I was diagnosed, with increasing dosages as time goes on. That's normal, since the thyroid disease is not something that can be 'repaired'. It's something I'll live with for the rest of my life but given the problems that other people I know have it's not that big a deal. I was under the impression that Synthroid was the best/only option out there. *But*.

There's another thyroid (and I can't tell you how many times I've misspelled thyroid in this post...) replacement called Armour. Which is...look away Muslim and/or Vegan readers!


...desiccated, ground up pig thyroid.


Okay, you guys can look now.

But it seems to work better than the Synthroid for some people. So it's something else that I'm going to mention to my doctor. I thought I was managing my disease, but clearly I've remained ignorant and complacent about a lot of aspects of it. No more.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 12: Movie: Skyfall

Bond. James Bond.

*makes giggling noises*

Okay. Got that out of my system for the next two minutes.

I have two confessions to get out of the way:

1) I am not a James Bond fan. I am a Daniel Craig - Bond fan. I've seen other Bonds and feel very 'meh' about them. So this is not a review from a die hard fan.

2) I continually get Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren confused. Not when I'm looking at them on screen, but, for example, when we were leaving the theater my friend and I were talking about Judi Dench (who plays M) and I insisted that she was also starring in Downton Abbey on PBS. That'd actually be Maggie Smith that I was thinking of. *shrug* I have no idea why I have this issue. They look nothing alike.

Right. Now we can talk about the movie.

The movie opens up with Bond finding a fellow agent mortally wounded, a hard drive containing the names of all NATO nations' undercover operatives missing. I get the impression that the hard drive wasn't supposed to exist, meaning that M collected it without telling the nations she was supposed to be working with, but I could be wrong. Bond and a female agent give chase through...wait for it...

Istanbul.

Was there a discount on filming in Turkey this year? *shrug* Well at least in this case Istanbul was just an 'exotic location' and had nothing to do with the plot of the film.



The female agent, attempting to shoot the villain, accidentally hits Bond instead. I'm throwing that out there because it's in the trailer, so it's not a spoiler. Bond spends part of the movie dead, but returns to Britain when M and MI6 come under attack by the person who has control of the hard drive.

It's a fun movie, plenty of action and Daniel Craig looking good in a suit. :) bb!Q is just adorable and I want to pinch his cheeks.

But beyond the eye candy factors, the movie seems to me to be about the changing world. Much is made of Bond's age, his fitness to still be out in the field doing what he does. And also the necessity of it. There are also questions of M's way of running MI6, whether or not she's behind the times and clinging to old on the ground espionage when the future is in computers and cyber information.

I don't want to say which side of that argument the movie comes down on because it would give away too much. :)

Bottom line: fun movie, definitely worth the viewing in my opinion. It gave me thoughts about the inevitability of progress, the nature of power and the consequences of our choices, and the necessity of not losing where we came from even as we adapt to the future.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11: Why stop?

This is going to be a short one, and not the movie post I should be making. I'm behind on a writing deadline and so ou guys get the short end of the stick! Sorry! But I promise I'll reply to all the comments. Guys have been leaving tomorrow, and I'll talk about Skyfall, which won out over Lincoln for this weekend's viewing pleasure.

My post is really mo of a question for you guys than anything else. I'm sometimes left wondering why God would stop sending prophets. In both Christianity and Islam there's the idea/understanding that He's stopped, that there aren't any more. In Christianity it's because, as I was given to understand, Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies and once he delivered his message there was no more need for Prophets of the OT style, making John the Baptist the last of them. And in Islam Mohammed is said to be the last prophet with his message being meant for all the generations after him.

But why?

We certainly haven't stopped screwing up or reinterpreting/misinterpreting the texts that we have, so why doesn't God send down people any more to tell us where we're messing up? Or to give us revelation relevant to the times we're living in now? (Which is not to say that the old revelations would be *irrelevant*, but that with every change of society and technology, new questions in regards to morals come up and rather than trying to apply something from 2,000 years ago, it might be helpful to have something a little more modern.)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 10: There's no place like home

I'm doing this from the iPad, so hopefully it doesn't format weird or anything.

If it does I'll fix it later. :)

Susanne asked a question about where I'd like to live, and I'm not supposed to say Florida! But the problem is, Florida *is* where I want to live! I love it here. This is my home in a way that I don't think many other people get. For all that it has it's problems, and every place does, I understand Florida. I feel like I'm a part of it in a way I don't think I could ever feel anywhere else.

But for the sake of the question, if I had to live somewhere else...

If we're talking in the US, then I'd want to live somewhere in the Midwest, where I (and my husband, because I think the only thing that could get me to move out of Florida is marriage) could have a little farm. I've gotten too used to the space we have out here to ever really be happy in a big city.

But if we're talking anywhere in the world, I think I'd like to live somewhere in the Middle East. In part because it is so different from where I've always lived and oddly because I think that Southern culture has a lot of parallels over there and I maybe wouldn't feel like a complete fish out of water.

The other part of Susanne's question was about where I'd like to travel. Well that's easy enough: Everywhere! I'd like to see every part of the world, if given the chance. It's all so different and so fascinating, how could I just pick one or two places?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 9: Bayshore Live Oak Park

It's still the 9th here. :p

I didn't get to the beach, sorry! But this is a small park that's two minutes from my office. :) It's very nice, and a good place to walk if you have company.

This actually is nowhere near the park. This is a house that's on the way I take to school every week. It's *gorgeous* to my eyes and the kind of classic Florida house I'd like to live in one day. The flag you can see flying is the Florida state flag, by the way.

On to the park! This is the view from one of the side streets. From here you just pull straight across into one of the parking lots. They have three because the park is rather narrow but very long. It runs along most of the north side of the harbor up to the bridge.

There are benches all over the park, donated by different groups or people in the community. They've been painted by different people. I particularly like this one. I'd say it was done by kids, but it's better than my own 'art' so what do I know? :)

A view of the harbor. You can see, in the distance, the other side. That's Punta Gorda, the original town in the area. Where I work, Port Charlotte, used to be a part of it until it broke off. The same with the city I live in now, North Port. It used to be 'North Port Charlotte'.

Technically there're no beaches in this park, but there are small areas of sand. :) Someone took advantage and built themselves a small sand castle sometime this morning. It'll be gone by now, the tide hitting the 'reset' button.

A little shore bird. There are always a bunch of these guys running around and they don't hold still. So the pic is a little blurry, sorry.

Part of the park. This is about as grassy as it naturally gets in South Florida.

Mangroves and then another little beach-y spot. People come here to fish all the time.

In spite of the instructions and the convenience of the little baggies (and the trash cans that go with them), you still have to watch your step in the park. Not only do some people just not pick up after their pets, there are always feral cats and other wildlife that leave their business in the grass. Though to be honest, the cats are rather neat about it. They at least bury it in the sand.

A sail boat on the harbor on the Gulf side.

Those are just rocks down there, but I took the picture to illustrate a point. The harbor water is not particularly clear, though it is clean enough to swim and fish in. We have a 'Freedom Swim' every Fourth of July where people swim the harbor. They start on the Port Charlotte side and end up at Fisherman's Village which is a resort on the Punta Gorda side. Anyway. Visitors sometimes don't realize that the harbor is home to sharks and alligators, and foolish ones will sometimes mistake a gator on the bottom in the shallows for a rock.

One of the fishing piers in the park. If you look beyond it you can see the bridge the crosses into Punta Gorda.

More mangroves. I was trying to get a shot of the Osprey's that were hunting in the park but they stayed too high up for me to get a good shot. This was taken from one of the grassy areas that they have for picnicking.

The 'Outdoor Classroom' in the park. They have a 'Pavilion' further down in the park but I didn't go that far. People can rent them for parties or other events, but during the normal course of things you can also just go and sit there and eat or take a break. The 'Classroom' has a big fireplace and everything for the winters when it gets chilly.

I just love the way Banyan trees look. Almost like you could peek in between the twists and see a whole secret world.

A bench celebrating the founding of Charlotte Harbor.

Just a little information about the history of the harbor. They left out the part about how we used to have pirates. :)

One last shot on my way back to my car. That's another fishing pier and a bench to just sit and watch the world go by.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 8: 3 - 4 - 5 ?

Heather did a post the other day about Surah Ar-Rum and her thoughts about it. If you look over at her original post, I had a few things to say about it. :)

But one question I thought was interesting enough (at least to me, and that's all that really matters, isn't it?) to have it's own post over here.

"(Side note: It is from these verses (30:17-18) that many Quranists I know draw their belief that we are ordered to pray/worship 3 times per day, rather than the traditionalist Sunni/Shi'a 5 times.)

My translation says this: '17. So glory be to God when you approach the eve or the morn. 18. And His (alone) is the Praise in the heavens and the earth, and at dusk, and when you approach at noon.'

Wouldn't that establish 4 prayers? Morning, noon, dusk (sunset) and an evening prayer? Otherwise, if 'eve' and 'dusk' are meant to be the same time, then why is it repeated but not morning? All the other times are listed only once in these two verses talking about prayer.
" (Heather's original text is the bold italics, my response is just the plain italics.)


Keeping in mind that I in no way shape or form read any Arabic, I'm working off of translations here. I personally have only two different translations of the Qur'an, but I checked out some more at www.quranexplorer.com and they all say the say thing, with variation of exact wording/word choice which is to be expected. I still count four prayers mentioned in this section.

When I was researching for this post I was also trying to track down where the traditional five daily prayers are derived from. I assumed that they weren't listed in the Qur'an itself, since if they were then there wouldn't be (again, I *assume*) Quranists who believe that there are only three mandatory prayers. However, a) I have so far failed to track down the hadith (which I assume is where the five come from!) (and let me take this opportunity to tell you how confusing I find ahadith...it's very confusing.) and b) found many claims that all five prayers are mentioned in the Qur'an.

By my count (and the sites I've found claiming that all five are in the Qur'an), I've got four of them covered. The fifth, according to these sites, is mentioned in Surah Hud: (113) And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: for those things that are good remove those that are evil: be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord):

So...'two ends of the day' would be dawn and dusk, yes? and 'the approaches of the night'? I have to assume that the 'approaches of the night' is not, in spite of what it sounds like to me in English, dusk because that would be weirdly repetitive, especially right after praying at dusk is already mentioned. So that's an 'after dark' prayer, by my personal understanding. Which would already be covered by the reference in Surah Al-Room.

My question, assuming that there is a question and that you've made it this far through my amature text readings, is are the five prayers detailed in the Qur'an? Is this something that I'm missing because I'm using a translation and it's clear in the original text that the words I'm taking to mean the same times are actually referencing different times in the original language? And if they aren't laid out in the Qur'an, where do they come from?

I remember a story about Mohammed (I think this was when he was taken up into heaven for a brief visit, but don't quote me on it) arguing God down from 50 prayers daily to five. I thought it was a story in the hadith, but like I said, I haven't been able to find it. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 7: 1700% Project: Mistaken for Muslim

I had another plan for today's post, but then Heather showed me this video.

It's beautifully done, but the reason behind it, the message of what it's trying to show people is happening, is terrible.

Everyone should watch it because it drove me to tears.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6: 'Liar, Lunatic or Lord'...or...

This is nothing new. I think I've even talked about it before, but when I was channel surfing on the radio on my way into work this morning it came up on the Catholic radio station during an interview.

People will most often quote it by saying Christ was either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. What they're doing is boiling down a quote from C.S. Lewis:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God." - Mere Christianity

I should think that the problem with this set up, the 'trilemma' (new word!) as I've seen it called, is pretty obvious. There are other options that Lewis ignores or has discounted in his own opinion and so left off of the table. But that doesn't mean that those options don't exist.

This maxim became, after Lewis made it popular, an important part of Christian apologetics for a long time. I know that some popular Christian apologists even today call it 'the most important argument in Christian apologetics'. And I have to wonder how they can say that, given how weak an argument it actually is. Even other Christian apologists point out the flaws in Lewis' argument.

It annoys me that so many people continue to use this line because it makes a quick sound bite.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 5: A Post About Nothing

*rolls around*

I don't know what to write about....

I know you guys gave me ideas, but I don't feel like writing about any of them...

I was going to write about something I heard on the radio on the way home but I'm not really sure what I want to say about it just yet.

Today was my first day back at work from vacation, which is always fun. The newsroom is busy busy with the election coming up tomorrow. Luckily I don't have to worry about staying all night since I don't work on that part of the paper.

Just finished watching Once Upon a Time from Sunday, which is one of my two favorite shows on tv right now. It's a lot more light hearted than American Horror Story but lovely and complex.

I think I'm going to go have a piece of the banana nut bread I baked yesterday, read for a little bit and then go to bed.

My life is full of excitement!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 4: Movie: Flight

If I was in the habit of doing starred reviews this movie would have a lot of stars. Luckily I'm not in that habit, so I can get away with just saying that it's very good and you should all go see it!

I was a bit leery about going to see this movie, to be honest. I knew, not from the previews but from reading some reviews about it, that it was more focussed on Denzel Washington's character, Captain 'Whip' Whitaker and his addictions than on the action of the crash itself. And I have a fairly triggery relationship with alcoholism and addiction. However, I love Denzel Washington's work and I decided to trust that the payoff would be worth any pain I felt watching an alcoholic on the screen.



It was definitely worth it.

We open with Captain Whitaker waking up in bed next to one of his flight attendants. They're both more or less still drunk from the night before and in order to get going, Whitaker drinks what's left of a beer and snorts a line of cocaine. Whitaker pulls off the 'functional drunk' routine fairly well, though there are a few signs - he uses a lot of mouth wash in order to try and disguise the smell of alcohol on his breath and he slips climbing the stairs into the plane - but one could argue that if we hadn't seen him doing the drugs before hand we could have written these things off easily enough.

On the last leg of their flight into Atlanta, something goes wrong with the plane and Whitaker and his co-pilot find that they have no control. The plane is losing altitude fast, crashing straight into a residential neighborhood. Whitaker, through some truly insane maneuvers, manages to arrest their fall and guide the plane to crash land in an empty field.

But as I said, the crash is only a very small part of the movie. It's the impetus for everything that follows, but it's not the focus. As a matter of fact you can see a good chunk of the crash action in the trailer.


Here's the thing that makes this movie so good, to my mind: Washington delivers an incredibly painful and believable performance as an alcoholic who is aware that the rest of the world sees what they do as a problem but believes that they have it under control. He *knows* that what he's doing is wrong but he honestly, deep into his soul believes that he's not an addict.

There's one scene, later in the movie, where Whitaker is drunk and fighting with Nichole, a recovering addict who he is dating (sort of) and she's trying to get him to go to rehab or to AA with her or anything, anything at all. And he's screaming at her that he only drinks because he chooses to. 'I have an ex-wife and a son that don't speak to me because I CHOOSE to DRINK!' And you can see that to him, that makes him not an addict. The fact that, to his mind, he is making a choice, makes it okay. He even tries to stop drinking as soon as he gets home from the hospital after the crash, dumping all of his drugs and his alcohol (and he has a LOT of alcohol) but as soon as things start to get a little stressful he goes out and buys some beer and a very large bottle of vodka and proceeds to drink throughout the rest of the movie.

One of the things that kills me about this movie, as realistic as it is, is the number of people who are utterly willing to lie for Whitaker and let him keep living his life the way he is. They do it, ostensibly, because it actually, honestly *isn't* Whitaker's fault that the plane crashes. It's a mechanical failure and it is only due to Whitaker's flying that anyone survives at all. But what they all fail to see, or maybe just don't know how to deal with, is that Whitaker is killing himself. It's only dumb luck that it *wasn't* his fault that the plane crashed, or that he didn't crash his car and kill someone while driving around town drunk.

His friends think that they're protecting him but they're not. There is only one person, Nichole, an addict who has destroyed her own life, who sits down and demands that Whitaker take responsibility for what he has done, for actively endangering the lives of every single person he takes responsibility for as a pilot. She is the only one who comes in and, because of her own life, because she really does feel something for him, tries to get him help. For the most part there are only people around Whitaker who want to help him cover it up so that he won't be blamed for this accident.

This is a painful movie to watch, in large part because of the quality of Denzel Washington's acting, and you will probably spend a large part of it wanting to reach through the screen and slap the man until some sense bleeds into his skull. But just wait. Watch the whole movie. It's very, very worth it.
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